In response to separate incidents, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued fines to two of the larger natural gas companies in the Commonwealth: Talisman Energy USA, Inc. and a subsidiary of Chief Oil and Gas.
Talisman’s $24,608 fine was announced on January 6, 2011 in reaction to a large diesel spill at a Marcellus Shale site. According to the DEP, the March 2010 spill contaminated 3,800 tons of soil and 132,000 gallons of water.
Chief Gathering LLC, a subsidiary of Chief Oil and Gas, was fined a $34,000 for illegally discharging hydrostatic water on August 11, 2010. According to the DEP report, hydrostatic water is used to test for leaks in gas pipelines before they are used for gas. There were five related violations with the incident, including:
- Failure to minimize the flow rate from the discharge point and allowing the formation of a 150-foot erosion channel
- Failure to submit accurate, detailed Notice of Intent project information
- Discharging hydrostatic test water with a total chlorine residual greater than 0.05 parts per million
- Allowing an unknown industrial waste to co-mingle in five storage tanks with the hydrostatic test water, which was subsequently discharged
- A failure to monitor the discharge for the specified effluent parameters at the minimum frequency required.
In my earlier analysis of violations per drilling operator, both of these companies were fairly high in terms of violations per well, but relatively low in terms of violations per million cubic feet of natural gas produced.
Violations per Marcellus Shale gas well, 1-1-07 to 9-30-10.
Violations per million cubic feet (MMcf) of natural gas produced, All violations are from 1-1-07 to 9-30-10, while all production values are from 7-1-09 to 6-30-10.